Sunday 11 November 2007

Sunday Musings

Everything does seem to be coming in threes these days: three defeats followed by three wins, the latest by three goals and with a third clean sheet in a row. What happens next is anybody’s guess, but since the game three things have made me chuckle (would be four if I included the news that West Brom have lost Kevin Phillips for a while at least, but that would be just plain nasty).

First, the photo. Is it me or does Danny Murphy look like the bloke from the pub who has turned out every Sunday for the past 40 years and refuses to hang up his boots?

Second, the dance down the annals of history that is the ‘On This Day’ page in the programme. I previously took delight in the glib description of the liberation of Paris. Now we are informed that on this day (10 November) in 1971 journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley located missing explorer and missionary Dr David Livingstone. I would have been at school at the time but don’t remember the news filtering through (and could have sworn that there was already something in the history books about this one). You’d have thought it would have got a mention as Dr Livingstone, who was born in 1813, would have been 158 years old at the time.

Third, the relief that I didn’t agree in total with Peter Varney’s latest musings. His plea for consistency in the application of the laws by referees must have everyone’s backing (and he included a very timely observation that we were “due a change of fortune regarding refereeing decisions” – it was indeed Fortune whose tackle in the first half could easily have been given as a penalty by a different ref). But he went on to express his reservations about the possible introduction of ‘sin bins’ in football.

Varney argues that their use “would presumably mean the introduction of a new card ranked between yellow and red that results in a spell in the sin bin” and that “this would lead to further disputes regarding the offences that deserve two yellow cards and a sending off, and those that don’t”. Sorry, but I don’t see why.

I always thought the sin bin would be used alongside the current yellow and red cards. In rugby a single yellow card means a spell in the bin, a red means dismissal. Such a set-up could be replicated in football - or alternatively a second yellow means a spell in the sin bin (and presumably a third yellow after the player returns would be a red card). There is no reason why the use of sin bins introduces a new card or new type of offence. Varney and others may be against sin bins (and there are clearly pros and cons) but the reasoning he outlines doesn’t stand up.

What are we trying to achieve? I think it’s reasonable to say that too many games are ruined by players picking up two yellows for run-of-the-mill fouls – and that the punishment in these cases exceeds the crime. If we want to change this either the referees have to be instructed to show some greater leniency when giving out cards, perhaps with more use of warnings, or a less onerous punishment than losing the player for the remainder of the game is introduced.

Of course, if one yellow means a spell in the bin there is the danger that games turn into a farce – a team could have four or five players in the bin at the same time. The fact is that the use of yellow cards in football and rugby is different and referees behave accordingly. If sin bins were introduced for two yellows the danger is that refs start handing out cards even more liberally, knowing that there is a stage between a second and outright dismissal. But this set-up looks to me as if it could work.

It may be that the size of the perceived problem doesn’t merit introducing sin bins. But it’s worth a general discussion, even an experiment.

One law in football that I feel really does need changing is the requirement that players treated for injury have to leave the pitch. It was brought in for good reason: play-acting was wasting time, players simply couldn’t be trusted, and it was/is unfair to expect referees to be able to decide when a player is putting it on. But the habit of feigning injury is much less prevalent than it was, while we have become much more used to refs adding on several minutes at the end of the game. On Saturday Cardiff had a corner and we had to defend it without Sodje and Iwelumo, who had received treatment, while Cardiff also had a player who had to leave the pitch. This is a form of punishment - you could even say a very short-lived sin bin - where most if not all of the time no crime has been committed.


charlton north-downs said...

Blackheath I have just read the section in the programme It happened on this day and immediately thought I have only had one beer, but I'm sure at school I was taught in my History lessons that Stanley met Livingston two centuries ago . A new proof reader required I think.
Strange match yesterday and Cardiff could easily got back in the game in the second half.

Richard Akeno - Pool said...

The point is with 10 minutes in the sin bin, you are overcome with guilt at letting your team down, you also have time to condsider why you have been sin binned. Others on the pitch dont want to add to the team´s burden so fewer cards are handed out. Therefore you get a freer flowing game, less cheating and fewer arguments with referees. The sooner the better for the good of the game.